Flora of NRSC Shadnagar Campus

Flora of Shadnagar India is blessed with diverse habitats and varied vegetation types. The need for undertaking an inventory of biodiversity has been emphasised by many. The conservation of biodiversity is necessary for the proper functioning of ecosystems and for the maintenance of the environmental services they provide. The NRSC Shadnagar campus has tropical dry deciduous scrub and dry grassland vegetation types and is part of Deccan plateau. In the present study, attempt has been made to present the fundamental information of plant diversity of NRSC Shadnagar campus. A total of 285 species of flowering plants were enumerated. The brief description, occurrence, flowering and fruiting period and popular names of species are organised to facilitate their identification. The authors of this book have added strength by including the good colour photographs of all species which would help in easy identification. This study as documentation on the Campus Flora shall serves as a source material on the plant diversity of the campus and shall also be of interest to employees of NRSC on environmental aspects.

Introduction

Location Map of Shadnagar Knowledge of the biodiversity of any geographical region is of paramount importance for sustainable management and conservation plans. The foremost task in the conservation process is to prepare an inventory of species. It is necessary that we should have full knowledge regarding the habit, habitat, frequency, distribution and phenology of various plants for their proper utilization and conservation. Indian subcontinent is known for its biological diversity. India is one of the twelve mega-biodiversity centres in the world. Andhra Pradesh, in southern India, represents three distinct phytogeographic regions, i.e. Deccan Plateau, Eastern Ghats and Coastal Plains. Flora of Andhra Pradesh accounts for about 2803 species belonging to 1051 genera under 185 families, which represents 16% of flowering plant species of India (Reddy et al. 2008). The flora of Andhra Pradesh (Pullaiah & Chennaiah, 1997; Pullaiah & Moulali 1997; Pullaiah, 1997) does cover Mahabubnagar district. Raghava Rao (1989) explored the flora of Mahabubnagar district during 1983-1989 and reported 1042 species. There is an increasing realization about intensive rather than extensive floristic studies of different areas for the proper documentation of biodiversity. Location map of Bioconservation zone in NRSC Shadnagar Campus

The present study area, NRSC Shadnagar campus comes under ‘Deccan Plateau’ phytogeographic zone, situated in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana region, Andhra Pradesh. NRSC Shadnagar Earth Station campus (316 acres) is located at Shadnagar around 65 kms from Hyderabad (Figure 1). Here, NRSC has a dedicated IMGEOS (Integrated Multi-mission Ground Segment for Earth Observation Satellites) activity and associated infrastructure (Figure 2, 3). It has been considered essential to have a Master Plan for the whole campus, both at Balanagar and Shadnagar, looking ahead towards meeting the needs of the next 20 years including the upcoming infrastructure for National Database for Emergency Management (NDEM) and many other national and international initiatives. The Master Plan envisages developing the total area at Shadnagar into 5 zones – Technical area, Technical support systems area, facilities area, residential area and bioconservation zone. The bioconservation zone is representing remnant protected dry deciduous vegetation. The similar kind of natural vegetation is not found in the environs of 40 kms. The redeeming feature of the Master Plan is the use of Green Technology for building the infrastructure, ensuring all environment friendly technologies. NRSC is aiming to achieve Platinum LEED rating.

 

Climate

The climate is tropical in Shadnagar (Figure 4). It is very warm and dry during the summer (March-May) and continues to be warm in other months of the year however in December and January the temperature drops during nights and at times it is very cold. The average annual temperature in Shadnagar is 26°C (Figure 5). About 744 mm of precipitation falls annually, mostly in September, with an average of 188 mm. The warmest month of the year is May with an average temperature of 32.2°C. In December, the average temperature is 21.2°C the lowest average temperature of the whole year. The maximum and minimum temperatures have been recorded as 42°C and 16° C respectively. The humidity varies from 37% to 74%, across the season. During the monsoon period the humidity varies between 61 to 74% and 49-57% in the winter. The humidity is very less in the afternoons during the summer (Figure 6).

Temperature graph of ShadnagarClimate graph of ShadnagarHumidity graph of ShadnagarMulti-temporal High resolution satellite image of NRSC Shadnagar Campus and environs

Methodology

71. Clitoria ternatea LExploration trips were undertaken during rainy, winter and summer seasons (2012-2013) to record plant species. The field trips have been planned in such a way that they cover every season of the year for observation of suitable plant material at different stages of development and proper identification of species. Special attention was paid to collect the data in the field relating to the habit, height of the plants, morphological features, characters of flower and fruit, species frequency and flowering and fruiting period. Identifications of species were made with the help of Gamble and Fischer’s (1915-1935) “Flora of the Presidency of Madras”, Pullaiah et al. (1997) ‘‘Flora of Andhra Pradesh’’ and Reddy et al. (2008) “supplement to Flora of Andhra Pradesh. Data such as botanical name, family, photograph (s), brief description, occurrence, flowering and fruiting period for each species has been given. The popular/common names of plants in Telugu, Hindi and English were provided as far as possible. The species are arranged according to habit in the order of wild  and planted trees,wild  and planted shrubs, wild  and planted climbers and wild  and planted herbs under wild and planted categories. The family names of Bentham and Hooker’s classification have been followed with recent changes. Nomenclature as far as possible has been made up-to date.

Vegetation

Dry deciduous scrub in Bioconservation zone (August 2013)

The plants during dry season shed their leaves to optimise transpiration and become leafless. Fallen leaves and twigs make humus after decomposition during rainy season. The vegetation type in the study area has been identified as ‘dry deciduous scrub and dry grassland’ (Champion and Seth, 1968) (Figure 7-13). However, overlapping of scrub and grassland makes it difficult to demarcate. This type of vegetation is specific to areas where rainfall is low and soil moisture is comparatively less. The campus vegetation appears to have affected because of earlier fires, which was common in the immediate vicinity of grass lands.

In the rainy season, the vegetation is lush green and the soil is covered by a vivid-green carpet of seasonal herbaceous vegetation. These seasonal plants (annuals and ephemerals), flower and fruit in a short time and disappear soon after the surface layer of soil dries up as the winter sets in. There are many factors like terrain, climate and shallow soil depth those are responsible for the present stunted formation of vegetation cover. Many tree species belongs to dry deciduous forest and thorn forest, but their height is mostly less than 5m and girth <40 cm and also have low crown density. The common trees in this vegetation type are Lagerstroemia parviflora, Butea monosperma, Azadirachta indica, Diospyros melanoxylon, Diospyros chloroxylon, Acacia nilotica subsp. indica and Albizia amara,. Among the tree species Lagerstroemia parviflora is widespread and predominant species and occupies>60% of total tree density. The girth of various individual stems of Lagerstroemia parviflora often ranged between 10 cm to 40 cm showing the low stature of natural vegetation.The common shrubs are Maytenus emarginata, Catunaregum spinosa, Cassia auriculata, Dodonaea viscosa, Mimosa hamata, Carissaspinarum, Rhus mysorensis,Grewia flavescens, Ziziphus xylopyrus. The shrubby climbers are commonly distributed mostly including mainly Abrus precatorius. Aristolochia indica, Cocculus hirsutus, Hemidesmus indicus, Tylophora indica, Wattakaka volubilis,etc.

Lantana-Canthium thicket

Grasslands are found in the interspaces of scrub throughout the area and almost have a ground canopy density of >90%. The height of the grassland varies between 1m to 1.5m. The dominant grasses are Heteropogon contortus, Cymbopogon flexuosus, Aristida spp, Eragrostis spp. Leguminous herbs such as Alysicarpus spp., Indigofera linifolia and Zornia gibbosa are frequently associated with grasslands. Lantana camara, an invasive alien shrub species has initiated forming thickets in some areas. The entry of other notable invasive species are also recorded i.e. Prosopis juliflora, Parthenium hysterophorus, Ageratum conyzoides which may cause threat to survival of native flora and may require the management intervention (Reddy, 2008). Cassytha filiformis, a partial stem parasitic twiner, often found on Carissa spinarum (shrub species) needs further investigation.

Bioconservation zoneDry grassland in Bioconservation zoneDry grassland in Bioconservation zone

From left to right, Dry deciduous scrub,Dry grassland, Profuse growth of Cassytha filiformis, parasitic species on Azadirachta indica (Neem)

Floristic Analysis

The total number of species recorded in the present study are 285, belonging to 217 genera and 70 families of angiosperms (Magnoliophyta). In this, Dicotyledonae (Magnoliopsida) represents 63 families and 244 taxa and Monocotyledonae (Liliopsida) seven families and 41 taxa. Habit-wise analysis shows that herbs are occupying higher number (154) constitutes 54.2% of total proportion followed by trees (55), shrubs (38) and climbers (38). Wild and planted species represent 245 and 40 species respectively. Among the wild species herbs are represented with 151 species (61.2%) followed by climbers (34), trees (33) and shrubs (27) (Figure 14). Of the 245 wild species, 33 (13%) belonging to invasive alien category, but on overall their abundance is low. The takeover of significant proportion of invasive alien species may cause threat to native biodiversity in the near future and need to be checked for their spread.

Figure 14. Distribution of wild species according to their habit

Of the 70 families Papilionaceae is the dominant familiy with representation of 28 species followed by Poaceae (25), Asteraceae (19), Euphorbiaceae (19), Amaranthaceae (11), Caesalpiniaceae (11), Acanthaceae (10), Malvaceae (10), Rubiaceae (9), Apocynaceae (8). The top ten predominant families contribute for 53.5% of total recorded species. 25 families are represented with single species only. The abundance of legumes and grasses is the remarkable feature of the area. An analysis of the dominant genera in the study area indicates that as many as 4 genera are represented by more than 4 species. Cassia and Phyllanthus are the largest genera with 6 species each, followed by Indigofera (5) and Sida (5). Of the 217 genera, 169 genera (77%) are represented by single species.

In order to obtain an insight into the relations of the flora of Shadnagar, a comparative analysis of ten dominant families (in order of their frequency in respective Floras) of the flora of Shadnagar campus, with ‘Flora of Andhra Pradesh’ and ‘Flora of India’ is given in table 1. The floristic pattern is directly comparable with flora of Andhra Pradesh due to the presence of widely distributed tropical species in the study area (except for Amaranthaceae and Cyperaceae). Cyperaceae (family of sedges) is represented by five species only due to lack of true marshy/swampy localities.

Table 1. Comparative analysis with Flora of Andhra Pradesh and Flora of India
 

Rank

Shadnagar

(present study)

No.

Spp.

Flora of A.P.

(Reddy et al.)

No.

Spp.

Flora of

India (BSI)

No.

Spp.

1

Leguminosae*

49

Leguminosae

338

Poaceae

1225

2

Poaceae

25

Poaceae

294

Orchidaceae

990

3

Asteraceae

19

Cyperaceae

157

Leguminosae

775

4

Euphorbiaceae

19

Euphorbiaceae

136

Asteraceae

754

5

Amaranthaceae

11

Acanthaceae

117

Rubiaceae

495

6

Acanthaceae

10

Asteraceae

121

Cyperaceae

449

7

Malvaceae

10

Rubiaceae

92

Euphorbiaceae

419

8

Rubiaceae

9

Lamiaceae

75

Lamiaceae

393

9

Apocynaceae

8

Orchidaceae

79

Acanthaceae

379

10

Convolvulaceae

7

Convolvulaceae

63

Scrophulariaceae

356

Enumeration of plant species

This section provides information about

Wild TreesWild ShrubsWild_ClimbersArgemone_mexicana

Biological Spectrum Percentage_distribution_of_Life_forms Figure 15. Percentage distribution of Life forms Depending upon the general appearance and growth, the species are grouped into different life forms. Raunkiaer’s (1934) classification of life forms is widely understood and used by ecologists throughout the world. Much depends upon how different species overcome adverse temperature conditions, i.e. cold or heat. For this he considered the position and the degree of protection toperennating bud during the adverse season as the principal feature of plant adaptation to climate. On the basis he classified higher plants into five major life form classes viz.Phanerophytes (P), Chamaephytes (Ch), Hemicryptophytes (H),Cryptophytes (Cr) and Therophytes (Th). 1. Phanerophytes bear their perennating buds freely in the air at varying heights at least 25 cm above the ground. There are mostly woody plants, trees, shrubs and climbers, common in tropical climates. Epiphytes are either included in Phanerophytes or sometimes included under a separate life form. 2. Chamaephytes are also woody or semi-woody perennials bearing their buds close to the ground but less than 25 cm from the surface. They are common at high altitudes. It includes suffrutescent or semishrubby forms; passively decumbent forms; actively creeping or stoloniferous forms; cushion plants. 3. Hemicryptophytes bear their renewal buds at the surface of the ground. Their shoots generally die in each year. They are a large and diverse group and include many graminaceous and herbaceous species. These are mostly found in cold temperate zone. 4. Cryptophytes (Geophytes) have their buds beneath the soil surface or in water. Most of them occur in arid zones. 5. Therophytes are annuals where the unfavourable season is passed as an embryo in the seed. They are common in desert conditions.

Planted TreesPlanted ShrubsPlanted ClimbersPlanted Herbs

All the species of higher plants of any community can be classified in one or the other life forms. The ratio of the life forms of different species in terms of numbers or percentages in any floristic community called the biological spectrum or phyto-climatic spectrum. Since the life form is related to the environment around the plants, the biological spectrum is also regarded as indicative of the prevailing environment, e.g. higher percentage of therophytes indicate long dry seasons, of chamaephytes indicate an extremely cold climate, of hemicryptophytes indicate conditions suited for the development of extensive grass lands, etc. On the other hand occurrence of similar biological spectrum indicates similar climatic conditions. The biological spectrum is prepared in order to know the trends of vegetation development and phytoclimate. In most spectra there is at least one life form whose percentage value is much higher than of the same life form in a normal spectrum. This indicates the predominance of particular type of climate that favours the development of that life form in a higher proportion. The biological spectrum of study area comprises 42% therophytes, 31% phanerophytes, 14% hemicryptophytes, 9% cryptophytes and 4% chamaephytes (Figure 15). When compared to the ranges of life form proportions in various climates, the infrequent hemicryptophytes and cryptophytes, fall under tropical or warm climate, while the therophytes reflexes a desert climate. The phytoclimate in study area is thero-phanerophytic as they form the dominant life forms. Based on the life forms it is having tropical dry climate.

Conclusions

This initial phase of documentation of biodiversity is useful in knowing what species are present and understanding species richness in the area of interest. The second phase of study is recommended to monitor biodiversity, in estimating diversity at the same location at more than one time period for drawing implication about change. The population dynamics of species is an important component in the understanding species biology. There is a need to study phytosociological attributes of plant diversity i.e. the association, distribution, frequency, density, dominance and proportions of each species, diversity of species and communities. Invasive alien species recorded from the ‘bioconservation zone’ may become aggressive colonizers and pose threat to survival of native species is necessitate being monitored and controlled. In this regard, a long term ecological monitoring of ‘bioconservation zone’ has been felt more appropriate

Argemone_mexicanaClitorea_ternateaPulicaria_wightianaLagerstroemia parvifloraHybanthus enneaspermusDichrostachys cinerea

Flora of Shadnagar Campus of NRSC. From left to right, Lagerstroemia parviflora, Hybanthus enneaspermus, Dichrostachys cinerea

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Flora of NRSC Shadnagar Campus